Charles Marsh argues that Evangelicals in the United States have undermined the credibility of their moral and evangelistic witness in the world by supporting the war in Iraq. The essay is titled “Wayward Christian Soldiers.” Marsh recently read sermons delivered in 2002-2003 by prominent evangelicals who supported the President’s decision to go to war.
What surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine . . . As a result, many ministers dismissed [just war] theory as no longer relevant . . . The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God’s will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply.
I have no doubt that many of the sermons probably did lack serious moral reflection and failed to explain the Iraq war in light of the Just War tradition as it has developed over the years since Augustine. I also agree that it is likely that many evangelicals put a rubber stamp on whatever the President decides because of the fact that he is a Christian.
However, I disagree with Marsh’s analysis of why the preachers ignored Just War theory. Just War theory was ignored, not because the preachers knew that the Iraq War fails to meet the requirements of a just war, but because too many evangelical preachers don’t even know what Just War theory is. The fact of the matter is that many evangelicals gave up serious biblical and theological reflection a long time ago and have replaced it with vapid emoting.
There has been a compromise of Evangelical witness in America, and the problem largely resides in pulpiteers whose sermons have little to no connection to the Bible. Now there’s a compromise we should all be concerned about.